Most homes possess a garden hose. It can be used to water and maintain the grass and flower beds during a dry spell, or perhaps to deliver water for washing the car. It’s a pretty basic item but what makes a good hose and what are some of the features to be taken into account before making a purchase?

How to choose a garden hose

Firstly, define your need. Measure the longest distance over which the hose will need to operate and choose a hose of the same length. The longer the hose, the lower the pressure, so you should pick the shortest hose to fit your needs. A shorter hose will obviously also be lighter and cheaper. Most hoses intended for home use are 1/2-inch diameter but 5/8-inch and 3/4-inch hoses are also available. The larger diameter hoses can transmit a greater volume of water but may need a high-pressure supply to deliver a good spray.

Durability is a function of the materials-of-manufacture and the hose’s design. The best hoses are made of rubber; cheaper hoses of vinyl. Many non-expanding hoses compromise by combining an inner rubber layer and a vinyl outer cover, which is often reinforced with a nylon matting. Fittings and couplings can be either plastic or brass, with the latter providing more strength and longer life. Non-expanding hoses are available in different ‘plys’, or layers: A single-ply, molded-vinyl pipe will be cheapest but multiple-ply pipes, using different layers for strength, flexibility, and resistance to kinks, splits, bursts and punctures, will be more expensive and have greater durability.

In recent years, expandable hoses have become available. They are constructed of an expandable, inner hose loosely enclosed within a folding outer protective layer or webbing. Typically, a 16 to 20 foot pipe will expand to 50 feet when filled with water, and vendors describe a pipe that ‘tidies itself away’ when the tap is closed. Expandable hoses are lightweight and need less storage space. However, our experience makes us cautious in recommending these designs: Expandable hoses seem less durable than solid pipes; they do not kink but can tangle easily; they lose their elasticity, and they do not automatically return to a neat coil when empty. We have included a couple of well-reviewed expandable hoses in our ‘picks’ but, in general, prefer this style of pipe only for limited situations such as patios, balconies, and planters where their lightness and convenience is a distinct advantage.

Cheap pipes are available but we believe it is worth paying a little more for a garden hose that will last for more than one season. We have identified several hoses that offer good value for money and offer our suggestions below:

Best Garden Hoses

Hozelock Starter Hose Set 50ft

Hozelock Starter Hose SetThis is a great-value set including connectors and a nozzle. The fittings are plastic but the pipe has a four-ply construction including a braided reinforcement layer and a tough, yellow-colored outer that provides UV protection. The manufacturer claims the hose is ‘weatherproof’ from -20º C to +40º C and offers a 10-year guarantee. The four-ply build offers durability and kink-resistance and this is a well-reviewed product at a very fair price. It is also offered in a 164ft length.

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Tacklife Double Layer 50-foot Expandable Hose

Tacklife Expandable Garden HoseThe Tacklife pipe features a tough, bright orange cover of knitted polyester and a double-layer latex inner tube. Despite the low cost, the fittings are brass and reviewers are pleased with its quality and durability. As with all expandable hoses, it needs to be emptied when not in use. A mesh storage bag is included and the shipper offers a two-year warranty. It is also available in a 100-foot version. This is a budget-friendly, expandable hose that is convenient for small domestic purposes.

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Homeme 50-foot Expandable Garden Hose

Homeme Expandable garden hoseA strong, black, knitted outer cover protects a triple-layer, latex inner pipe in this Homeme hose that is delivered with brass fittings and an included 9-pattern spray nozzle. It is lightweight (approximately 2lb when empty) and easy to store, extending from 17 feet to 50 feet when connected to the water supply. The latex inner is strong and kink-resistant but must be emptied when temperatures are likely to dip below freezing since ice can cause damage. Users have provided positive reports and we like the brass connectors. This is a well-priced, solid example of an expandable hose. Also available in 100 foot length.

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Anti-kink NTS ‘Wintech’ 20M Garden Hose (w.kit)

Anti-kink NTS garden hoseNTS Wintech hose is a high-quality pipe manufactured in Italy. It is constructed in five layers with a tough yellow outer and a ‘knitted’ mesh that confers kink- and twist-resistance while retaining flexibility. The hose is offered together with a fittings kit that includes connectors and an adjustable spray nozzle; the plastic fittings are grey with red ‘soft-touch’ grips. The Anti-kink NTS ‘Wintech’ hose is also available in 50 ft and 164 ft lengths (with and without fittings). The pipe is pressure-rated to 30 bar and comes with a 30-year guarantee. This product will prove durable in all domestic situations although the vendor also offers a professional-standard ‘Masterpiece’ pipe, reviewed below.

Bradas ‘Rolled Gold’ 15M Premium Hose

Bradas Royal Golden Protection Garden HoseRoyal Gold is a premium pipe offered without fittings in 50 and 164 foot lengths. It has six-ply construction featuring a tough UV-resistant outer layer and a nylon mesh that allows flexibility while restricting kinking and twisting. It is pressure tested to 30 bar and Bradas extends an unlimited guarantee. This is a tough, durable product at a feasible price.

Anti-kink NTS Professional ‘Masterpiece’ 50 ft Garden Hose (w.kit)

Anti-Kink NTS Masterpiece garden hoseMasterpiece is NTS’ top-of-the-line garden hose. The outer cover is a bright metallic green and the multi-ply construction includes a nylon weave for ‘robustness’ with flexibility. The pipe is pressure-rate to 50 bar and is kink- and twist-resistant. The fittings sold with the pipe include connectors and a spray nozzle. The pipe is available in longer lengths and comes with a 30-year guarantee. This is not the cheapest pipe but we are confident that it will survive considerable bad treatment and provide many years of leak-proof service.